Battle of the Sexes
Had the daughters and wives of the countryside played a part in the committees in Tunnel Six and elsewhere? Was it common for a woman to bring a dispute before the assembly? What did the fact of the conflicts setting a pair of women against each other say about solidarity and division by gender in the countryside? Could a woman ever be a rondero? In 1977, a womans committee was organized in Cuyumalca by Omelia Lopez. Omelia was soon to be the first president of the womens committee. The question is why did it take this long for women to be heard?
At the time womens complaints of domestic violence and village thefts were almost completely dismissed and ignored by Perus national authorities. Also many women chose not to get involved. They strongly were believers that men were the ones in charge and the woman belonged in the home. Women were to believe that they were tied by nature to the pettiness of jealousy and scandal, less able than men to see what was best for the family and village. From what they were taught, it was just not possible, until Omelia. Omelia did have some help from Daniel Idrogo, an organizer from the Communist Party of Peru-Red Homeland. Daniel is a strong believer in Maoism. The Chinese leader had often repeated that without the participation of women there can be no victory against imperialism. Daniel said. The rondas would be stronger if everybody participated. So what were their goals?
The main task was to accompany and support their men. The womens committee was only an appendage of the ronda committee, which was run by men. So even if the women werent as high as the mens status, they were still doing something about and being heard for once. The chief duty was to enforce the male obligation to take a turn on the nightwatch. Women were necessary in the making the rondas an instrument of peasant power and revolution. With each organization came problems. For instance, Lack of female solidarity. Rumors flowed, like women committees were an excuse for lazy senoras to get together to gossip. The larger problem was a backlash against the new activism. Which is stated that a husband controlled a wife, who was not to take a step without the bosss permission. A final factor was outside opposition given by other newspapers.
Were woman ronderos? The answer according to the book, Nightwatch, was yes and no, an issue that remained unresolved in the northern Andes. In my views I say yes. I believe that the woman were to scared to admit it to their local men. The woman may have not been out with the men at night but they were there to keep the ronda organized and up to date with village issues. Not a single woman was granted to vote until 1965 and I say congrats to all the women of the northern Andes for their bravery and courage to stand up for their turn to be heard. By the end of the 1980s, the number of girls in school had risen in the Andean countryside, and their rate of illiteracy was becoming far lower than among their mothers and grandmothers. The committees gave women a formal role in the rondas. The migration of woman to jobs such as maids and cooks also increased. At the same time, the influence of the womens role in rondas made the feminist movement in Peru grow. In 1995, President Fujimori established a Ministry of Womens Affairs.